Already without Ryan Grant, Mark Tauscher and four key defenders, the Packers lost four more key players during Sunday's 16-13 at Washington.
The Packers won the overtime toss but went nowhere, with Chad Clifton getting whipped by Brian Orakpo on third-and-12. Donovan McNabb hit Santana Moss on two passes for 29 yards to the Packers' 45 but Brady Poppinga's sack forced a punt and gave the Packers another chance. But Rodgers threw a bad ball to Greg Jennings while under pressure and was picked off on second-and-5 by LaRon Landry. Landry's return to the Packers' 16 was nullified because Landry rolled into Jennings upon making the catch.
Still, Washington got the ball at the Packers' 39. On third-and-1, Poppinga stepped on fullback Brad Sellers' foot, drawing a flag for pass interference at the 25. Interference on Charles Woodson gave the Redskins another first down at the 22. A couple of sneaks by McNabb set up Graham Gano's 33-yard, game-winning field goal.
Green Bay lost three starters in the first quarter – tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee and defensive end Ryan Pickett – then linebacker Clay Matthews on a near-sack late in the third quarter.
The Packers had a chance to avoid overtime after Washington tied the game at 13 with 1:07 remaining.
Rodgers hit Andrew Quarless for 9 yards and scrambled to the 14 to reach their 44-yard line, with their final timeout stopping the clock with 24 seconds remaining. With Rodgers sensing a blitz, he threw quick to Quarless, who rumbled to the Redskins' 35 and Rodgers rushing the offense to the line of scrimmage to kill the clock with 7 seconds remaining. But Mason Crosby's 53-yarder doinked halfway up the left upright.
Washington accomplished almost nothing on offense other than three big plays. The second of them came early in the fourth quarter, when McNabb found Anthony Armstrong matched up against safety Charlie Peprah. Armstrong beat Peprah with an outside-in move and hauled in a 48-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-10.
The third big play came courtesy of Chris Cooley, who ran through tackles by Poppinga, Woodson and Peprah for a 30-yard gain to the Packers' 35-yard line just before the two-minute warning. The defense stiffened, though, with Tramon Williams breaking up a pass to Moss to force the tying field goal with 1:07 to play.
The Packers led 10-3 at halftime but should have returned to the locker room with a death grip on the game. Brandon Jackson's 71-yard run set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Donald Lee on third-and-goal.
Green Bay had a chance to make it 14-0 with a second-and-goal at the 1 early in the second quarter. Instead, John Kuhn got a half-yard on second down and Rodgers lost that half-yard with a sneak on third-and-goal. On fourth-and-goal, Rodgers faced an immediate pressure and had no choice other than throw it to well-covered Quarless, and the ball was deflected and fell incomplete.
Other than a long pass to Moss that set up the Redskins' field goal, Green Bay's defense was dominant early. Lee turned it over on their second offensive snap but Washington didn't even get to attempt a field goal despite taking over at the Packers' 21. The Redskins' first five drives managed only four first downs.
While the Packers could get almost no pressure on McNabb with Matthews on the sideline, the Redskins successfully pressured Rodgers. On the big play in overtime, Rodgers had pressure in his face and threw off his back foot. The ball was behind Jennings and Landry swooped in for an easy interception.
The Redskins have precious few weapons surrounding McNabb but Santana Moss remains ageless. He finished with seven catches for 118 yards.
Driver, on what the team learned: "Don't let opportunities slip away. It's like that in life. When you let opportunities slip away, it's hard to come back from them. But one thing we know is that we let this one slip away and we've got a bunch of guys in this locker room that believe that. And when you've got guys that believe that they let one slip away, it's easy to fight back."
15.4: That's Green Bay's conversion rate on third down. The Packers finished a woeful 2-of-13 on the move-the-chains down.
The Bears (4-1) are alone again in first place with a 23-6 win at Carolina, even though Todd Collins threw four interceptions. The Lions (1-4) snapped a 10-game losing streak by blowing out the Rams 44-6. Stefan Logan had a 105-yard touchdown on a kickoff return. Minnesota (1-2) visits the Jets (3-1) on what should be a ratings blockbuster on Monday night.
The other things you might have missed
-- The injury situation went from bad to worse. Already without linebackers Nick Barnett (wrist) and Brandon Chillar (shoulder), safety Morgan Burnett (knee), cornerback Sam Shields (calf), Tauscher (shoulder) and Grant (ankle), the Packers lost Jermichael Finley (hamstring ligament) after Lee's fumble, Ryan Pickett (ankle) exited on the ensuing snap when the Redskins' offensive tackle dove and landed on Pickett's ankle, and Lee (stinger) was lost on his touchdown. Then, late in the third quarter, Matthews jogged off the field with a hamstring that might be slightly pulled. It's early, but Finley and Matthews probably won't be available for next week against Miami but neither injury is considered as serious as Finley's knee sprain last year and Matthews' hamstring pull on Family Night.
-- Had the Redskins failed to kick that winning field goal, Matt Flynn might have been the quarterback. Rodgers sustained a concussion at some point during the Packers' final possession. Rodgers needed 279 passing yards to top 10,000 for his career and wound up with 293.
-- In the first half, Packers receivers dropped six passes: three by Donald Driver, two by James Jones and one by Jordy Nelson. Green Bay had just three drops in the first four games total. Driver had another drop on third-and-1 inside the Redskins' 15 in the third quarter. Crosby wound up missing from 48 yards that would have pushed the lead to 16-3.
-- Nelson and Pat Lee split the work on kickoff returns. Their performance was equally poor, with Nelson averaging 17.5 yards and Lee 16.5 yards on two returns apiece.
-- Matthews was given 1.5 sacks, raising his league-leading total to 8.5. The blown shotgun snap on the Redskins' first drive, in which Matthews dropped McNabb for a 22-yard loss, was officially ruled an aborted play so Matthews was not given a sack. Cullen Jenkins' sack streak was snapped at four games. He spent most of the first half harassing McNabb but was mostly invisible after that.
-- Brandon Jackson rushed for a career-high 115 yards on 10 carries, plus had a team-high five receptions.
-- Playing for Barnett, Desmond Bishop had 13 tackles (six solo) and one sack.
-- Last week, Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Poppinga shared the snaps opposite Matthews. This week, Jones handled full-time duty and finished with six tackles (three solo).
-- Of the Packers' 17 first downs, eight came in the first quarter. Of the Redskins' 21 first downs, five came on defensive penalties.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.